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Fans flock to support India in WI

Men and women in blues and tricolors outnumbered local fans at the Sabina Park for Thursday's first ODI against the West Indies.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 11:45 IST

Not that reggae country has become raga country overnight, but Indians are making their presence felt here. To begin with, it has been more off the field than on it, as men and women in blues and tricolors outnumbered local fans at the Sabina Park for Thursday's first ODI against the West Indies.

This must be encouraging for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which is trying to make the game a commercial success in countries with large Indian populations.

Proof of how serious these fans can be was there in the flight from London to the Jamaican capital as a number of people of Indian origin settled in Britain boarded it to catch Rahul Dravid's men in action in the Caribbean Islands.

If that gave the uninitiated an idea of how crazy these expats can be, the bigger picture emerged after checking into the land of Bob Marley, George Hedley and Asafa Powell - dominated by rain and rum at the moment - while bumping into men of familiar features every now and then.

Most of these Indians are settled in the US and it's not difficult for them to spend around US $500 each to see their heroes from close quarters.

"Indians living in the US are passionate about cricket. Many of them keep track of even Ranji Trophy matches and this is a good chance to see our team. We will be there at the ground with posters and all," said Srinivasa Reddy, a pharmaceuticals research scientist based in New Jersey with roots in Hyderabad.

He is in a group of seven and said they have met several other Indians during their short stay in Kingston.

Reddy and his friends informed that a local restaurant serving Indian dishes called Akbari was packed with Indians on Wednesday evening and all those present were there in connection with cricket.

"Many of our friends were here for the 2002 series and said that the cricketers met them over lunch on a rest day.

"That must have been great, more thrilling than watching a match," said Harish Padmasola, an IT pro in Reddy's gang. "And this is a good chance for us to see how things here are before we come next year, for the World Cup."

While all of them will root for India (Reddy might do so for Venugopal Rao as well), things are different with Joshua Lewis. This businessman based in Northampton was a resident of Grenada, where his forefathers went to from India.

First Published: May 19, 2006 11:16 IST